A Kitchen That Flows Beautifully

photography by john w. hession

Gathering in the kitchen are (clockwise from top left), Pi Smith, of Smith & Vansant Architects in Norwich, Vermont; Jim Balcom, of Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont; and homeowner Ali Ashare and her children, Violet and Ryan.

Before it was renovated, Ali Ashare and James Carroll’s Hanover home never fully met their needs. The busy family with young children and three dogs entered the home from the garage and traipsed through the kitchen to get to the main part of the house. “The kitchen had really bad flow,” Ashare says. “It wasn’t designed to have someone really cook in it. If the refrigerator or oven was open, you couldn’t walk through the kitchen.”

The couple hired Smith & Vansant Architects in Norwich, Vermont, to redesign the space with the help of Jim Balcom, of Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, and Jim Barry, of Brown/ Barry Carpentry in Etna. “The kitchen was the heart of the problem,” architect Pi Smith says. “Everyone was going in and out through the working part of the kitchen.”

The solution: expand the kitchen into space occupied by a former mudroom and laundry room, and install new cabinetry that took advantage of the room’s ten-foot ceilings.

Renovations of the Ashare- Carroll kitchen include a new triple window at the sink area that overlooks the back yard; a porcelain apron-front sink; double ovens by Wolf; a Sub-Zero French door refrigerator; and a stainless-steel and glass stove hood by Miele.

The remodeled kitchen is bright and open, with a clear path from the newly expanded garage through the kitchen into the main living areas. Tall, pale gray cabinetry accentuates the kitchen’s high ceilings and contrasts with the room’s cheery blue walls. The elegant upper cabinets, topped by glass door displays, are lit from inside with LED lighting, creating a soft glow when the kitchen’s working lights are turned off. A new triple window over the kitchen sink affords better views of the back yard and lets in more light.

The island is the room’s “workhorse,” Smith says. Painted dark gray, it provides a visual contrast to the wall cabinets while a curved, stainless-steel range hood is a central focal point. The eating bar, topped in walnut, has cabinets and seating on one side, and a prep area with an induction cooktop and warming oven on the other. The eating bar also obscures counter clutter and helps establish a path for the homeowners to travel from the garage into the home. Designed by Smith and built by Barry, “the island feels less like a kitchen cabinet and more like a piece of furniture,” Smith says.

Removing the original kitchen cabinets created another design opportunity. “When we took all the cabinetry down, we had one big wall,” Smith says. At Ashare’s request, Smith & Vansant designed a large barn-style door, mounted on a rolling track, to access the walk-in pantry and bar area. “Everyone told me a barn door would look funny,” Ashare says, “but it really works.”

Open shelves and dark gray cabinets in the pantry provide storage for barware, plates and appliances. Two refrigerators— one with adult beverages, the other with kid-friendly drinks—provide easy access without interrupting the cook. New windows look out to the front of the house, allowing for glimpses of arriving visitors.

Now, the kitchen meets the family’s expectations. “It’s where we spend almost all our waking time when we’re home,” Ashare says. “It’s a really great space.”


The center island helps establish a path for the homeowners between the garage and primary living spaces. The eating bar’s raised walnut counter hides clutter.

Elegant pale gray, custom-made cabinetry.

Elements of the kitchen island, including gray cabinetry and quartz countertops, are echoed in the pantry. New windows look out to the front of the house.

Separated from the kitchen by a modernized barn door on a rolling track, the walk-in pantry provides additional storage as well as easily accessible wine and beverage refrigerators.

Categories: Architecture and Interiors, Kitchen Designs